Five Inspirational TED Talks for Employers & Small Business Owners

No matter how experienced you are in the world of business, sometimes it pays to take a step back and listen to the advice of others.

With that in mind, today we’d like to share with you five of our favourite TED talks, covering subjects ranging from productivity and marketing to creativity and personal happiness.

All but one of these five lectures are under fifteen minutes long, and we’ve provided brief descriptions of each below, so you’ll know exactly what to expect before clicking play.

Whether you’re looking for a bit of inspiration as you take your first steps into business, or perhaps just need little guidance as you continue to grow it, there’s bound to be something here to help. So sit back, relax, and let the experts at TED inspire you.

The Agony of Trying to Unsubscribe

Topics: Marketing, business, communication

What it’s about: Comedian and writer James Veitch tells a laugh-out-loud tale about his battle to unsubscribe from marketing emails — and the fun he had with their sender along the way.

What we learned: It’s important to keep your customers in the loop, but there’s a fine line between being informative and just plain pestering. Don’t abuse your subscribers’ trust by bombarding them with emails about things they have no reason to be excited about. And if they do respond, don’t just brush them off — after all, you were the one who started the conversation!

Why Startups Succeed

Topics: Startups, business success

What it’s about: Professional ideas man Bill Gross sheds some light on a key factor that’s often overlooked when it comes to launching a new product or business.

What we learned: Just because you’ve done your market research and have the funds to get your new venture off the ground doesn’t mean it’ll be a success. Bill Gross’ talk was a real eye-opener, and reminded us that even the best ideas can fall apart if the conditions aren’t right.

How to Make Work-Life Balance Work

Topics: Productivity, work-life balance

What it’s about: Author and recovering businessman Nigel Marsh tells a heartfelt tale about how a random event prompted him to take his life back.

What we learned: This truly inspiring TED talk reminds us of what’s really important in life and how, if we’re determined to be successful, we first need to determine exactly what ‘success’ is. Far from encouraging us to pack in our day-jobs, however, Nigel inspired us to make the most of both: maximising our time spent in the office and playing harder at home.

Sweat the Small Stuff

Topics: Creativity, design, advertising

What it’s about: Truthful, inspiring and grounded, advertising expert Rory Sutherland teaches us that big problems don’t always require big solutions.

What we learned: Using real-world examples, Rory reassured us that smaller businesses can still make an impact, and that larger organisations can often miss the mark entirely because of their preoccupations with scale and grandeur. This talk definitely put a little extra wind in our sails during the early days of RotaCloud, and continues to inspire us today.

Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work

Topics: Management, productivity

What it’s about: Productivity expert Jason Fried argues that offices aren’t necessarily the best places to get work done…

What we learned: When you go into business for yourself, it’s tempting to follow the roadmaps that were used by the businesses that went before. But what if the maps are wrong? Jason Fried’s talk presents a refreshing alternative to office life, reminding us that maybe it’s not so bad to do things a little differently — especially if you’re a small business still making a name for itself.

How to Manage for Collective Creativity

Topics: Motivation, inspiration

What it’s about: Linda Hill teaches us about the importance of collective creativity and effective leadership.

What we learned: “Innovation is not about solo genius; it’s about collective genius,” says Linda. RotaCloud was born from its founders’ collective hatred of staff rotas and poor rota planning. We’ve never been a one-person operation, and, as we continue to grow, it’s important to remember that the people who join our team can each bring their own skill sets to the party and offer fresh new perspectives. There are plenty of managers out there who could do with being reminded of this from time to time.


If there are any other TED talks that you found particularly inspirational or useful, be sure to share them in the comments section below. Otherwise, head back to the RotaCloud blog homepage for more tips and insights into business growth.